Its OK to let teens vote but not drink


Is 18 years old too young for a legal drinking age? You bet it is. A coalition of more than 100 university presidents from across the United States - including three from Oregon - did a good thing recently by raising the idea of lowering the legal drinking age and inspiring a public dialogue.

The college presidents pointed out inconsistencies of allowing 18-year-olds to vote and serve on juries and in the military, but denying them the choice to purchase and consume alcohol.

But as a nation of laws, there are hundreds - maybe thousands - of restrictions that inhibit individual choice in favor of a greater common good.

The fact that a person can demonstrate the maturity at 18 to cast a vote for president does not automatically prove the maturity to cope with the responsibilities of consuming alcohol. An 18-year-old can vote without endangering his or her life, but countless underage youngsters die each year in alcohol-related traffic accidents.

Three more years is not too long to wait to legally drink. In the meantime, these young people can enjoy the other emerging benefits of adulthood, such as voting.

The drinking age may not seem fair to an 18-year-old, but as mature adults will surely point out, nobody ever promised life was fair.